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Acad Emerg Med. 2006 Nov;13(11):1109-13. Epub 2006 Oct 2.

Developing models for patient flow and daily surge capacity research.

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  • 1Department of Emergency Medicine, Regions Hospital, 640 Jackson Street, St. Paul, MN 55101, USA.


Between 1993 and 2003, visits to U.S. emergency departments (EDs) increased by 26%, to a total of 114 million visits annually. At the same time, the number of U.S. EDs decreased by more than 400, and almost 200,000 inpatient hospital beds were taken out of service. In this context, the adequacy of daily surge capacity within the system is clearly an important issue. However, the research agenda on surge capacity thus far has focused primarily on large-scale disasters, such as pandemic influenza or a serious bioterrorism event. The concept of daily surge capacity and its relationship to the broader research agenda on patient flow is a relatively new area of investigation. In this article, the authors begin by describing the overlap between the research agendas on daily surge capacity and patient flow. Next, they propose two models that have potential applications for both daily surge capacity and hospitalwide patient-flow research. Finally, they identify potential research questions that are based on applications of the proposed research models.

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